Survival of the Fittest
Strongmen (and women) challenge skills at FITT Warehouse competition
by Doug Gorman
(Editor’s Note: Results of the Saturday’s Strongman Competition will appear in an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald)
For some, joining a gym and trying to get in shape can feel like torture. Others look at it as a way of life.
Saturday morning those who love pushing their body to the limit gathered under the hot sun at Ashley Park to take part in FITT Warehouse’s sixth annual Strongman contest.
At least 40 men and women competed in seven weight classes (mens and womens lightweight, mens and womens middleweight, men’s masters, men’s light heavyweight, men’s heavyweight) while showing off their strength in eight timed events, including the stone carry, backward sled drag, slosh-log squat, wheel farrow, keg loading race, thick bar deadlift, farmer carry and tire toss to see who is the strongest. At the end of the event, there was an overall winner in each division.
For the first time, there was also a team competition featuring five competitors from the same gym.
Mindy Self, who owns Fitt Warehouse along with her husband Travis, said competitors have came as far away as Texas.
“It has doubled in size over the years,” she said. “We have many of the business in Newnan involved as sponsors. We just want it to keep getting bigger. We are grateful to all the business who helped make this successful.”
Local entry Gary Hyde has entered all six of the strongman competitions over the years and loves the challenge of competing with athletes who are younger.
“People do it for different reasons,” Hyde said. “I do it because I am 51, and as long as I can keep us with the younger folks, I will keep doing it.”
Amanda McLendon was drawn to the competition for the first time out of curiosity.
“I workout at Crossfit and we have a really encouraging group,” she said. “I just thought I would give it a try and see how it goes. “I am 40, I have three small children and I just wanted to step out of my box.”
Events provided a variety of challenges. The wheel farrow involves ferrying weights on a one-wheeled object much like one would a wheelbarrow while the keg loading race also has competitors moving beer-style kegs of different weights from one end to the other. The farmer’s carry, which also forces competitors to use shoulder, arm and leg muscles simultaneously features athletes moving weights as far as they can.
Chiropractor Dr. Eric Legault of Optimal Performance helped many of the athletes in Saturday competition getting ready for the event.
“Treatment prior to competing is very important,” he said. “Proper nutrition before something like this and proper warm ups is also a key . Getting in a good mental frame of mind is important too, because something like this is just as much mental as it is physical. It is not every day you train for something like this.”
Self said the event gives back to community with all proceeds, including entree fees and concessions go to the local chapter of Assistance in Health Care for cancer.
“We were looking for something we could do in the community and this was just a perfect way to give back,” Self said.
Assistance Health Care for cancer helps families with bills not covered by insurance such as paying utilities or hotels while families and those who are sick are away from work getting cancer treatment.
Andrew Turner has competed in five of the FITT Warehouse events, but got hooked on Strongman Contest after first entering one while living in Tallahassee.
I really liked it when I entered in Florida, and I have been doing it ever since,” he said. “I get a real thrill out of coming out here and competing with others. Win or lose, it is exciting to hear my name called. Just knowing people are rooting for you gives me a big thrill.”
Although the competition can get intense and everybody wants to win in their division, there is plenty of support for others.
“There was one competitor out there and he was pulling 500 hundred pounds, Turner said. “It took him for ever to finish, but when he was done, everybody gathered around him to cheer him on and congratulate him.”
The strongman competition has evolved over the years thanks to Mindy and Travis’ desire to turn this into one of the biggest fitness events in this part of the state.
“Every year it get more creative and are more challenging,” Hyde said.
What makes the FITT Strongman contest unique is the events aren’t part of most of the athletes regular workout routine.
“None of these are things you necessarily do in the gym but with all the different exercises you do in the gym you are still training for it,” Hyde said.
FITT WAREHOUSE STRONGMAN
Men’s Light Weight: 175-pounds and under
Men’s Middle Weight: 176-199 pounds
Men’s Masters: Age 45 and over
Men’s Light Heavyweight: 200-225 pounds
Men’s Heavyweight: 225-up
Women’s Light Weight: Under 150 pounds
Women’s Middle Weight
Slosh Log Squat
Keg Loading Race
Thick Bar Deadlift